DISCLAIMER: This post is not intended to be political. It is meant to show the experiences of Tufts University students in political engagement, and it is in no way intended to sway, propagate, or coerce. While communicating some of my opinions is necessary to write this post, that is not the point or the focus. With that in mind (and with your mind open), please continue reading!
This past weekend, the United States turned its eye to fickle New Hampshire. Some of us Tufts students took advantage of our New England location to travel to the Granite State to campaign for our respective political candidates ahead of this past Tuesday’s Primary election. As the political climate has heated up, I’ve found myself attending Tufts Democrats meetings this semester. As a registered Independent (in Massachusetts), I’ve always been wary of a possible hivemind mentality in campus political groups. This has turned out to be a misplaced and ignorant assumption; there are many different voices in the group, and I’ve found the diversity of opinions to be refreshing and stimulating.
With that, seven Tufts students trekked up to Nashua, New Hampshire with the College Democrats of Massachusetts (students from Northeastern and Boston College were also on the bus) last Saturday to do our part in an important state where we don’t have a vote. The bus made stops at both the Bernie Sanders Nashua headquarters as well as the Hillary Clinton HQ--these buildings were both on Main Street, approximately a quarter-mile away from each other, and offices for John Kasich and Jeb Bush were between.
The Tufts students got off at the Hillary for New Hampshire HQ (the Tufts Sanders supporters went up to canvass separately from us) and we stepped inside as a campaign manager was standing on a chair, delivering a rousing speech about the day’s goals: sway voters toward our candidate, but to most importantly encourage voting. The room was packed with volunteers of all ages, and the registration process was quick. I had a canvassing packet in-hand not five minutes later, and my classmate and I were searching for a ride to our turf, which was 20 minutes away. Within minutes, a woman was offering us a ride and four of us were in her car, exchanging pleasantries.
After she asked us why we were college students supporting Clinton (“Aren’t you ‘millennials’ supposed to be on the Bernie hype train?”) and we discussed our common ground on the issues in the Primary, she revealed that she was Andrea Cabral, former Suffolk County Sheriff for ten years and Massachusetts Secretary of Public Safety for three. Currently, she’s working in talk radio. It was very cool to be college students volunteering literally alongside a certified Big Deal in the local political world.
My partner and I canvassed in Amherst, New Hampshire, where vast cul-de-sacs jut out from the main road. We knocked on approximately 40 doors, some of which weren’t even on our list (we’re only human, we make mistakes), but maybe we swayed some voters that way. Lots of people weren’t home (it was noon on a Saturday, after all), a few people refused to talk about politics, some people told us that we’d already come to their door too many times, and some people told us that they were voting in the Republican Primary. Some people identified themselves as fellow Hillary volunteers. No matter the mixed response we received, it was clear that New Hampshire was ready for the election, and they knew that they were in the spotlight, whether they liked it or not.
It was a successful day of advocacy and it was fun to take advantage of our location in order to be politically engaged and fulfill our civic duty. We returned home by 6pm exhausted, but ready to phone bank for the cause every day afterwards.